Infineon’s new Villach factory opened ahead of schedule and is ready for the future!
Since the beginning of 2021, the world has fallen into a “chip shortage”, and the shortage of automotive chips is particularly severe. Although there are voices that the lack of cores is expected to gradually ease, the lack of cores in the automotive industry is still relatively serious. A large number of car companies are in a state of stagnation in production and manufacturing. buy.
With the global shortage of cores, many semiconductor giants have proposed expansion plans. A few days ago, Intel’s official website announced that two new chip factories in Arizona officially started construction on September 24. After completion, they will not only provide capacity support for their own products, but also help to provide foundry capacity for other manufacturers. The so-called far water can’t save the near fire. Intel’s Arizona chip factory, which has just started construction, is obviously unable to “quench thirst” in time for the current “lack of cores”. Not long ago, on September 17, Infineon announced that it is located in Fira, Austria. Hertz’s 300mm thin wafer power semiconductor chip factory officially started operations, and the first batch of wafers was shipped that week.
From left: Dr. Sabine Herlitschka, CEO of Infineon Technologies Austria AG, Dr. Reinhard Ploss, CEO of Infineon Technologies AG, and Jochen Hanebeck, COO of Infineon Technologies AG (Source: Infineon Technologies) company)
Infineon has a market share of 20% in the field of power semiconductors. In order to maintain its leading position and achieve long-term profitable growth through efficiency enhancement and emission reduction, Infineon announced a new chip factory as early as 2018 for the production of power semiconductors. device. After three years of preparation and construction, the new plant started production in early August, three months ahead of schedule. In the first stage of expanding production capacity, the chips produced will be mainly used to meet the needs of the automotive industry, data centers and renewable energy generation such as solar and wind power.
With a total investment of 1.6 billion euros, this chip factory with the motto of “facing the future” is one of the largest projects of its kind in the European microelectronics field. The new factory will gradually increase its production capacity in the next 4-5 years, which is expected to provide Infineon generates sales growth of around 2 billion euros per year.
Dr. Reinhard Ploss, CEO of Infineon Technologies AG, said: “The new factory is another important milestone in Infineon’s history, and its start-up is also great news for our customers. With growing demand, now is the perfect time to add new capacity. The market situation over the past few months has clearly shown that microelectronics is critical and covers almost every area of life. With the acceleration of digitalization and electrification , we expect the global demand for power semiconductor devices will continue to grow in the next few years. The new capacity will help us better provide long-term high-quality services to customers around the world.”
Adhere to green development
Infineon believes that the future development trend will be green, sustainable and energy-saving. Only through green development and green energy can future development opportunities be obtained.
The new Villach factory makes green development possible. In order to better assist the implementation of energy conservation and emission reduction, relying on its professional advantages in power semiconductors around the world, Infineon provides energy-efficient chips and solutions, which help various industries. A variety of consumer and industrial products and equipment to achieve energy saving and emission reduction. These high-efficiency chips can intelligently control power switches, which can significantly reduce the energy consumption of many applications such as household appliances, LED lighting and mobile devices, thereby minimizing carbon emissions.
Even without seeing the chip, people can really feel the benefits it brings. For example, modern semiconductor devices can reduce the energy consumption of refrigerators by 40% and the energy consumption of architectural lighting by 25%. Thanks to the Villach plant’s product portfolio, the new production facility will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 13 million tons. This is equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide produced by the more than 20 million inhabitants of Europe.
Jochen Hanebeck, Chief Operating Officer of Infineon Technologies AG, said: “We will also use renewable energy, which can cover 80% of the plant’s heating needs through the intelligent recovery of waste heat from the cooling system.” About 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, the extensive use of exhaust gas purification systems makes direct emissions almost zero.
Another important milestone in sustainable production and circular economy is the production and recycling of green hydrogen. From the beginning of 2022, the hydrogen required for the production process will be produced directly at the Villach plant using renewable energy, thus eliminating CO2 emissions from the original production and transport links. Green hydrogen will be recycled after being used in chip production to power public buses. This dual use of green hydrogen is unique in Europe.
With these initiatives, the new Villach plant is playing an important role in making a big push for Infineon’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.
Artificial intelligence and automation make factories smarter
Jochen Hanebeck said that the new Villach factory is one of the most advanced power semiconductor chip factories in the world, with advanced manufacturing technology and highly automated process flow.
Infineon Villach’s new factory workshop (Source: Infineon)
For the chip manufacturing industry, the manufacturing process is the core and soul. The chips are produced on thin 300mm wafers, which are only 40 microns thick, thinner than a human hair. Here, Infineon successfully developed the technology for the production of power semiconductors on 300 mm thin wafers about ten years ago, and in recent years has achieved fully automated mass production at its Dresden plant. The use of this technology brings significant throughput advantages and lower capital expenditures due to the larger wafer diameter.
The new factory is another important milestone in Infineon’s development history, which will further increase production capacity and reduce costs.
So far, Infineon now has two large 300 mm thin wafer chip factories in Dresden and Villach for the production of power semiconductor devices.
Jochen Hanebeck said: “The two factories are based on the same standardized production and digitalization concept, which allows us to control the production operations of the two factories as if they were one factory, which not only further increases the production capacity, but also provides customers with higher flexibility. This is because we can quickly adjust the output of different products between the two factories, so as to respond to customer needs more quickly. The two factories are essentially ‘merged’ into one giant virtual factory, which is Infineon’s A new benchmark in 300mm manufacturing that further improves resource and energy efficiency and optimizes the environmental footprint.”
The two highly automated factories will no longer use humans to transport wafers, with an automated transport system up to 6 kilometers long, linking all the equipment together. In addition, Infineon uses artificial intelligence to manage and collect data more intelligently. Predictive maintenance can be achieved through artificial intelligence and highly automated technologies to better test equipment reliability for better decisions.
According to reports, the total area of the new Villach factory is about 60,000 square meters. Although the automated factory has saved a lot of transportation employees, it has created 400 high-quality professional jobs, of which two-thirds have already arrived.
What about excess capacity?
Semiconductor supply basically shows a cycle every two or three years, and is currently in a peak period of short supply. As major suppliers expand production and foreign factories affected by the epidemic begin to resume work, will there be excess capacity?
Reinhard Ploss said that the construction of production capacity will go through a front-end construction period, which is expected to peak in 2023-2024: “We think the most important issue is distribution, and there may be oversupply issues. We need to observe Which areas of the market are growing and which areas need more chip allocation is a question of allocation and the market as a whole.”
In addition, Reinhard Ploss added: “There are many reasons for overcapacity, such as overly optimistic market forecasts, but this is not a big threat to us. We will take a flexible way to deal with it.”
As for the price increase caused by the shortage of supply, Infineon has taken measures to avoid such a situation through good and efficient management. One is to build production capacity, improve the technological content and degree of automation of factories, and strive to be foolproof to deal with the future; the other is to combat excess through efficient management and forecasting.
“We don’t sell chips to whoever bids more. In terms of pricing strategy, we also watch the progress and development direction of various industries, and watch the overall economic prosperity. I think the market is the most important thing to determine the price after all. factors that cannot be unfairly priced,” said Reinhard Ploss.
Where is the future market?
“We are very happy to build such an advanced factory, which makes us very proud. We announced the construction of the factory in 2018, and now we have completed the construction three months earlier, even the new crown epidemic can not stop our determination. Whether we are in Any challenge in any area will be overcome and the goal will be achieved,” said Dr. Sabine Herlitschka, CEO of Infineon Technologies Austria AG proudly.
The new Villach factory has enabled Infineon to expand its production capacity in power semiconductors, which can be said to be ready for a large number of demand. So what areas of the market is Infineon targeting in the future?
According to Reinhard Ploss, the automotive industry is a very important area for Infineon. Manufacturers in the automotive industry are very demanding and have very high demands on innovation. 40% of the chips produced by Infineon go to the automotive industry. It can be said that the automotive industry is the basic disk of Infineon, and it also hopes to gain favor from other industries.
Electric vehicles are still in their infancy, and Infineon sees a lot of potential in wind and solar. In addition, there is also great potential in the data center. With the development of artificial intelligence, the gradual digitization requires more energy, which is also an area that Infineon will focus on in the future, including battery-operated equipment or household appliances (such as air conditioners), Energy efficient chips are required.
In the field of health care, smarter chips are also required for health and auxiliary equipment for the elderly; collaborative robots in the industrial field also have high requirements for power; in mobile communications, there is also a large demand for processors and power devices. . There are also more application fields including the Internet of Things and smart home, and there are many potentials. These are the directions that Infineon will focus on in the future.
Finally, Reinhard Ploss said in response to a reporter’s question that Infineon’s products have achieved great success in China. Among the products exported to Asia, the purchase share of Greater China has reached more than 50%, and China will be Infineon’s largest market. important market.
The exterior of the new Infineon Villach factory (Source: Infineon)
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